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Medically reviewed by, Russell Braun RPH
Dexcom was the first FDA approved system to do continuous blood glucose (sugar) monitoring. The Clarity software and app were added when the Dexcom G5 model was introduced. Clarity provides a detailed level of reporting and tracking which was a major advancement.
What does all that mean for diabetics?
First launched for desktop, the Dexcom CLARITY diabetes management solution enables patients and clinics to review past glucose levels from the Dexcom CGM over user-defined time periods. Dexcom CLARITY offers a range of reports to meet varying user needs.
Say goodbye to pricking your finger to test your blood sugar!
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a way to continuously (in 5 minute intervals) measure blood glucose, day and night. The great thing about this is users can see trends in blood sugar instead of depending on just one reading at a certain point in time. The trend allows users to make a better decision about what adjustment, if any is needed.
In addition, diabetics can see how certain meals, snacks, drinks, exercise sessions or sickness impact their blood glucose. Again seeing a trend in blood sugar after these events provides more insight into how their body is reacting.
#1 What devices can Clarity be used on?
The app is available for both on iTunes for Apple iPhone (iOS 10.3 or later) and for Android (version 6.0 or later) on the Google Play store. Data can be viewed directly on your smartphone and stored. The software that goes along with the Dexcom is cloud based. That means it is stored remotely and accessed from any desktop or mobile device. This makes it easy to share information with your doctor.
#2 What data does it provide?
Using the Dexcom Clarity App you can quickly see blood sugar readings that include:
- Best day
- Average blood sugar
- Risk for hypoglycemia
- Estimated Hemoglobin A1C
Having all this information in the palm of your hand can be a powerful tool. Allowing you to see patterns and associate certain eating or exercising behaviors with your blood sugar.
#3 How to use Dexcom Clarity?
The Dexcom system uses a sensor that is attached to your body to measure blood glucose levels. The Clarity software allows the blood glucose readings that are taken by the sensor to transfer to the app and website. It is available on Dexcom models G4, G5 and G6.
Once the information is received from the Dexcom sensor on your skin, it takes about 3 hours for it to appear in Clarity. Once the information is received, Clarity places it into graphs that can help you analyze patterns in glucose changes.
You will need to create a new account online and save your username and password for future logins. Clarity is specific to a geographic area. If you create an account in the U.S., it will not work outside the U.S. That is important to remember if you are traveling abroad.
After signing in the first time, if you are using a Dexcom CGM receiver, you’ll see instructions to install the Dexcom CLARITY Uploader software. You must have the CLARITY Uploader installed on your computer to upload data from your Dexcom CGM receiver to CLARITY. You only need to install this once.
You can upload data from the Dexcom CGM receiver to clarity or use a smartphone. As mentioned, if you use the receiver, the Clarity uploader software must be installed first. It may be simpler to just use the Dexcom mobile system which streams the data to Clarity automatically. This way you can just view via your smartphone or the web portal without the need to deal with the uploading from the receiver.
#4 Customize Clarity
Clarity allows you to set up various ranges for blood glucose results. Below are some examples.
- Set your upper and lower limits for glucose target ranges
- Provide thresholds for glucoses levels by day and night
- Customize sleep and wake times based on your schedule
- Set push notifications
- Generate reports and weekly emails
- Authorize data sharing with doctors and clinics
#5 How do I get Dexcom on my lock screen?
Getting Clarity to send you notifications is part of the setup process. You have the choice to allow push notifications overall. Then it will ask you if you want weekly notifications for patterns or overall time in target range. The final setup step asks if you would like a weekly email summary.
If you want to change the notifications later you can do so by going into the settings for the app and make adjustments at any time.
#6 Who can use the Dexcom system?
Any type 1 or 2 diabetic who routinely tests blood glucose via a fingerstick test is a candidate. It can be used by adults and children ages 2 and up. This is an ideal way for parents with young children who have diabetes to monitor the sugars and have peace of mind.
#7 Is Dexcom is better than fingersticks?
In a study published by Diabetes Journal, readings from the Dexcom G5 were compared to the Eversense implantable CGM device and the Freestyle Libre Pro CGM made by Abbott. The authors were trying to determine the accuracy of the glucose reading by looking at how they compared to fingerstick readings.
The Dexcom G5 had fewer times where the readings were different (16%) than the fingersticks than the Freestyle Libre (18%). However, the implantable Eversense device had the lowest incidence of readings that differed from fingersticks at 14%. Eversense is not approved in the United States at this time, but is available in Europe.
Many doctors and patients hope that CGM may be a way to help patients lower A1C levels and prevent dangerous hypoglycemic episodes. More studies are needed to prove they fill this desire. With each new model that is introduced the accuracy of readings is getting better. The more accurate the readings the more likely this goal will be achieved.
Is digital always better?
It is important to keep in mind that data overload is a real possibility. You should work out a plan with your doctor to decide how and when you will use the data. While it is great to find trends, if you are the type to get nervous or stress over a reading that is “out of range” it might end up doing you more harm than good. Make sure you talk to your doctor and understand that a few bad readings are not dire. However, over time being able to identify patterns and trends based on your lifestyle could help you manage your diabetes.
Diabetes doesn’t have to rule your life!
#8 How do I share my data with Dexcom G6?
Dexcom Clarity allows you to share your blood glucose data with your doctor. The doctor or clinic will need to have a clarity account and you give that account permission to share your data. Sharing data with more than one clinic is possible as well.
Sharing can go either way.
- Your doctor or clinic provides and invitation for you to share with them. This will appear as a notification to you on the mobile device.
- In the app you can also tap to share which generates a code for your clinic to use.
Once sharing is accepted the clinic and your Clarity app will automatically share data between them.
If for some reason you decide to stop sharing data with a particular doctor or clinic you simply tap to stop sharing. Once that is done, old data you had previously shared and any new data is no longer available to the clinic.
#9 Dashboard for viewing the data
Dexcom has worked with the International Diabetes Center (IDC) to create a dashboard report for Clarity. The report compiles glucose data to provide weekly summaries. Seeing data in a weekly fashion helps to pick up on lifestyle trends that may be affecting blood glucose.
Highlights of the dashboard include:
- Average glucose – Can be changed to different date ranges.
- Estimated Hemoglobin A1C – Used to gauge how A1C numbers may change between visits to the doctor.
- Hypoglycemic risk – An estimation of the risk of severely low hypoglycemia.
- Time in range – Allows you to see the amount of time glucose levels have been low, normal and high ranges.
Comparing these details to previous weeks provides insight into changes in diet, exercise or sickness that may impact glucose levels. The reports can easily be generated from the app or on desktop. Once favorite reports are identified you can have them delivered weekly via notification or email.
Diabetics know that even though diabetes is persistently high blood glucose, having hypoglycemia, (or low blood glucose) is more dangerous. Dexcom being able to predict the risk of hypoglycemia can be an eye opening feature for many diabetics. More studies are needed to determine if this actually prevents patients from having hypoglycemic episodes that can often lead to hospital stays. Knowing how much at risk you are is a step in the right direction for blood glucose control.
The key to stabilizing blood sugar is understanding how the food you eat will affect your sugar. The Complete Diabetes Cookbook is a great resource to show you how to do that.
#10 Comparison and patterns provide value
Being able to compare blood sugar levels week over week can be valuable. One example would be starting a new diet to see how it affects your blood glucose. Certain day of the week comparisons could be valuable as well. Say you tried a high intensity workout on one day of the week and compared the results to other days could help you find the right exercise program for you.
Patterns are powerful as well. If you see that on weekends your glucose is out of control due to a less stringent schedule that is kept vs. during the week you could develop a weekend schedule. Knowledge is power and together with your doctor Dexcom can provide more insight into patterns that may be causing the disease to progress.
Don’t leave it all up to you doctor. You need to be an active participant to effectively manage diabetes. Review your reports before appointments and then share the data with your doctor to devise a plan tailored to your needs.
#11 Have you tried Dexcom Clarity?
Please leave a comment and let everyone know if Clarity works for you. What do you like or dislike the most? These comments help other people who read this blog and wonder if Dexcom Clarity is right for them.
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Have you used Dexcom or the app? What were the pros and cons? Please chime in below with your comments and thoughts below